How To: Get Rid of Flies in the House

More than merely pesky, houseflies can transmit disease. Use these six simple tactics to banish the bugs and keep them out for good.

By Bob Vila | Updated Jul 19, 2021 1:12 PM

how to get rid of flies in house


As warm weather sweeps in, so does an annual nuisance: houseflies. The small black pests that get in your face, buzz in your ear, and land on your food may seem like a harmless though incessant irritation, but in fact houseflies (officially known as Musca domestica) can carry pathogens and cause illness.

At first you may spy just one fly, but females can lay five to six batches of 100 eggs that hatch in 12 to 24 hours. To avoid an infestation, take a multipronged approach. Prevent houseflies from becoming a problem with these six strategies.

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Reasons Why Houseflies are Harmful

Houseflies may not deliver a painful bite or sting the way bees, wasps, and horseflies (their bigger cousins) do, so they can seem benign. But houseflies constantly flit back and forth between trash, manure, and decaying matter, picking up bacteria that can contaminate your food. Transmission typically occurs when a fly regurgitates directly on food or on surfaces that humans touch. This can cause a number of illnesses, including:

  • Food poisoning
  • Dysentery
  • Cholera
  • E. coli
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Tuberculosis
  • Eye infections
How To Get Rid Of Flies Inside House


6 Ways to Get Rid of Flies Inside the House Naturally

1. Seal the Entrance

It can be challenging to keep nuisance flies out when you’ve got a busy household of family members, pets, and visitors coming and going, but here’s the best defense is to block the bugs. Repair any mesh that has been damaged on window and door screens. Caulk around windows to seal gaps and small crevices where flies could enter. Consider adding a quick-closing magnetic screen door to high traffic portals, such as those leading out to a deck or patio. Don’t leave attached garages or cellar doors open for extended periods.

2. Remove the Bait

To make your home less hospitable to flies, remove or minimize the stuff that attracts them. First and foremost, don’t leave any food debris out on counters or tables, especially uncovered items. Fruit—especially apples—and vinegar are particularly alluring to houseflies. Keep countertops clean of crumbs, wash dishes soon after meals rather than leaving them in the sink, and ensure that the door to the dishwasher is firmly closed.

Also be mindful of compost, garbage, and pet food. These also attract flies and can quickly become breeding grounds. Take all compost materials outside immediately. Keep garbage cans covered, and carry the trash out regularly. Clean or completely cover pet bowls between meals, particularly if you give your furry friends wet food.

3. Lure Them Out with Light

Insects are attracted to light, so if your home is infested with flies, try this trick to usher the majority of bothersome buzzers out. On a bright, sunny day, close the door to the room where flies are present and shut the blinds and drapes, except for one gap that lets in light. Open that window wide to the outside. Flies should naturally be drawn to the light and exit.

how to get rid of flies in house with fly paper


4. Swat, Suck, Stick!

Despite prevention tactics, flies may still find their way in. Combat flies with a good old-fashioned flyswatter or rolled-up newspaper—and the right technique. Good eyesight and sharp reflexes are a plus in the fight against flies. A housefly has almost 360-degree vision, so it’s best to approach from behind and hover just above before making a fast, decisive flick with your weapon. Flies are one of the few insects that are actively affected by colors, so use a flyswatter in a neutral tone for superior stealth.

Another way to outsmart flies is to vacuum them straight out of the air. Hover a few inches behind with the vacuum on to suck them in. Use this method only with vacuum cleaners that have a bag, and dispose of it immediately after foiling the infestation so flies won’t find their way back out and back into your home.

For a passive yet ever-ready fly-catching technique, simply hang quality flypaper. Make your own sticky traps by coating strips of kraft paper with a sticky mixture of water, sugar, and honey or syrup (or purchase flypaper like this from Amazon). Bugs are bound to bump into it and stick as they buzz about, and are even more apt to do so when trying to escape your active swipes.

5. Build and Bait a Natural Fly Trap

Employ a simple all-natural homemade fly trap to lure and imprison unwanted insects. All it takes is a plastic container, plastic wrap, and fly bait (like fruit, vinegar, or apple cider vinegar). Set up the fly trap in a corner to attract and confine flies, then dispose of them when you’ve won the battle. If the DIY route isn’t your style, shop for a fly trap to catch and kill flies.

6. Use Houseplants to Repel Flies

Both potted plants and essential oils can be part of your anti-fly arsenal. An indoor herb garden that includes mint, lavender, and basil are all worthy fly fighters. Set them up on a kitchen windowsill and flies will be less likely to enter. Alternatively, add a few drops of lavender or eucalyptus oil in a spray bottle full of water and mist door and window frames frequently to keep flies at bay.

how to get rid of flies in house


Insecticides and Repellents

If the methods above fail to solve a fly infestation, you may wish to resort to insecticides and repellents. Products containing permethrin are considered to be among the most effective and widely available for fly control. However, many sprays and foggers are designed for outdoor use, so if your problem is inside the home, shop around for a safe and effective, non-toxic product.

FAQ About How to Get Rid of Flies

For more information on flies and how to ward them off, see the answers to these common questions.

What are flies a sign of?

If you notice flies swarming in a small area, it may be an indication of rotting food or garbage, a pet’s poop accident, or a dead animal. But often flies around the house aren’t a “sign” of anything in particular–the bugs just flew in and are looking for a likely spot to feed and breed.

What smell will keep flies away?

Lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, basil, cinnamon, and lemongrass are all natural essences that deter flies. Flies also dislike the strong smell of camphor, an organic compound.

Pest problems?
Find licensed pest control experts in your area and get free, no-commitment estimates for your project.